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BMJ. 2015 Sep 2;351:h4466. doi: 10.1136/bmj.h4466.

Access, quality, and costs of care at physician owned hospitals in the United States: observational study.

Author information

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA
  • 2Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
  • 3Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
  • 4Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA.
  • 5University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
  • 6Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.



To compare physician owned hospitals (POHs) with non-POHs on metrics around patient populations, quality of care, costs, and payments.


Observational study.


Acute care hospitals in 95 hospital referral regions in the United States, 2010.


2186 US acute care hospitals (219 POHs and 1967 non-POHs).


Proportions of patients using Medicaid and those from ethnic and racial minority groups; hospital performance on patient experience metrics, care processes, risk adjusted 30 day mortality, and readmission rates; costs of care; care payments; and Medicare market share.


The 219 POHs were more often small (<100 beds), for profit, and in urban areas. 120 of these POHs were general (non-specialty) hospitals. Compared with patients from non-POHs, those from POHs were younger (77.4 v 78.4 years, P<0.001), less likely to be admitted through an emergency department (23.2% v. 29.0%, P<0.001), equally likely to be black (5.1% v 5.5%, P=0.85) or to use Medicaid (14.9% v 15.4%, P=0.75), and had similar numbers of chronic diseases and predicted mortality scores. POHs and non-POHs performed similarly on patient experience scores, processes of care, risk adjusted 30 day mortality, 30 day readmission rates, costs, and payments for acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, and pneumonia.


Although POHs may treat slightly healthier patients, they do not seem to systematically select more profitable or less disadvantaged patients or to provide lower value care.

© Blumenthal et al 2015.

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